It is the start of another season for the women’s lacrosse team – but this season will be like no other. For the first time ever, the team has a number next to its name – as in, the No. 15 Cornell Big Red.
Under the tutelage of head coach Jenny Graap ’86, Cornell has risen from the ashes into a national powerhouse, a force that must be reckoned with in any opposing team’s schedule.
“We are proud and honored that the polls put us high, it feels great,” Graap exulted. “But we are very aware that 2001 is a brand new season. We’ve worked hard to earn that spot, which comes with winning games. But the polls play no factor, no role, at the end of the season. We do feel the pressure of living up to that ranking, and as a coach, I try to de-emphasize [it] to focus on ourselves, and improve ourselves. We must take the season game by game.”
The first team to face the Red’s wrath is 14th–ranked Penn State. A traditional powerhouse, the Nittany Lions finished last season a disappointing 8–9. The year before that, they finished 15–5 and made an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Following last season’s debacle, the team hired a new coach in Suzanne Weinberg, whose “experiences have prepared her well for the lacrosse team’s future,” according to Penn State Assistant Athletic Director Ellen Perry.
“This team has a lot of potential and I’m excited to get started towards realizing that potential in the 2001 season,” Weinberg said.
She will have a tough time against a pumped up Red squad – one which won last year’s ECAC championship with ease. Last weekend, the team played a host of scrimmages at Loyola.
“It gave us a chance to pair up with teams, to play someone other than ourselves. It helped us to focus, to realize what we’re out here to do and what we’re working for,” said co–captain Sarah McGoey.
“It was good to see how we matched up against teams like Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Towson State; it’s nice to see that we are a stronger team than all three of those teams. It was good practice for us, maybe a little ego boost,” co–captain Ginny Miles laughed.
But the first game of the season is always a little rough, and will be a little more than rough for the Red, who has had trouble practicing in the nasty weather.
“It better not affect our play,” MIles said. “We’ve worked so hard all year long, that for something like the weather to affect a game as big as Penn State would suck.”
“We are not going to be perfect,” Graap said. “The weather has limited us from doing what we wanted to do, especially since we don’t have an adequetly–sized indoor facility. We’re not at the same place as we were in years past. But we are a very excited, very talented team. We’ve got a strong junior class.”
“In a way, we’re lucky,” McGoey said. “Having played in the worst conditions, and now going to the indoor facility at Penn State should help us.”
The team took a couple of hits this week in practice as top freshman Michelle Allen rolled her ankle, and junior Jaimee Reynolds fell on the ice around the practice field, hitting her head. The extent of her injury is, as yet, unknown.
“Opening with Penn State is a big challenge for us. It’s a new obstacle for us. But we’re looking forward to it,” Graap assured.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin